Grace: To let go of things both good and bad that hold me back from growing in my relationship with God.
Text for Prayer: Matthew 2:13-15
Reflection: There are many crossroads in our lives where we must leave behind both good and bad things in order to embrace a better future. In Matthew 2, the Holy Family flees into Egypt in order to escape the political persecution of Herod, who seeks the death of the newborn Messiah to eliminate this rival to his power. In a similar fashion, we see many immigrants today who flee from political persecution in Latin American countries for the safety of North American countries. But this month, we might also reflect in a special way on the “flight into Egypt” of Benedict XVI, who has resigned the papacy for the good of the Catholic Church in order to better seek God’s will.
Just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph became a family of immigrants in order to preserve the future of the Church, Benedict XVI has relinquished the papacy for the first time in 600 years to ensure the future of Catholicism in this century. Acknowleding both the joys and sorrows of his papacy, he has boldly given up the highest office in Christendom out of a humble recognition of his own limitations in health and age. With the symbolic closing of the doors at Castel Gandolfo and standing-down of the Swiss Guards, he has definitively elevated the good of God’s people above his own ecclesial positiion, making a very difficult and heroic choice rooted in deep prayer.
As the Holy Family suffered persecution, and as migrants today suffer persecution, our former pope has suffered greatly in the eight years of his pontificate. Lambasted in the media, he has implemented curial and liturgical reforms too subtle to be appreciated by the world at large. He has made sensitive and thoughtful contributions to global discourse that are often misrepresented or misunderstood in a culture of instant information. And in general he has suffered from the inevitable comparison to his blessed predecessor John Paul II, whose grand political and evangelical gestures were more accessible to the world at large.
But Benedict XVI has remained humble and unafraid of world opinion, reminding us that we can only be who God intended us to be, even if it doesn’t measure up to the ideals of perfection that we aim to fulfill in our personal and professional lives.
Today we might ask ourselves if we are quite so courageous in being ourselves. Are we truly free in letting go even of small things, both good and bad, that hold us back in our relationship with God at this moment? Are we willing to step back from bad situations and embrace in faith the uncertainties of God’s will for our future?